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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 00:30 GMT 01:30 UK
Game blamed for hammer murder
Stefan Pakeerah
Stefan was repeatedly battered and stabbed by his older friend
The parents of a boy who was murdered with a claw hammer by a friend have blamed a violent video game which the teenage killer was "obsessed" with.

Warren Leblanc, 17, repeatedly stabbed 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah after luring him to a Leicester park to steal from him on 27 February.

He pleaded guilty to murder at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday.

Stefan's mother described Leblanc, who confessed to police moments after the assault, as "inherently evil".

Video game 'obsession'

Stefan's mother, Giselle, a research nurse, had to leave court when the evidence in the case became too harrowing.

Following the hearing she said her son's killer had mimicked a game called Manhunt, developed by Edinburgh-based Rockstar North, in which the players score points for violent killings.

Warren Leblanc
Leblanc armed himself with a claw hammer and a knife
Manhunt was banned six months ago in New Zealand by censorship officials.

Mrs Pakeerah said: "I heard some of Warren's friends say that he was obsessed by this game.

"To quote from the website that promotes it, it calls it a psychological experience, not a game, and it encourages brutal killing.

"If he was obsessed by it, it could well be that the boundaries for him became quite hazy."

Mrs Pakeerah, 36, called for violent video games to be banned.

Covered in blood

She said: "I can't believe that this sort of material is allowed in a society where anarchy is not that far removed.

"It should not be available and it should not be available to young people."

grab from Manhunt website
I don't play these games but if they are influencing kids to go out and kill people then you don't want them on the shelves
Patrick Pakeerah, victim's father

Leblanc, of Braunstone Frith, Leicester, persuaded his victim to go to nearby Stoke Woods Park, known locally as The Dumps - to meet two girls.

The court heard how he armed himself with a knife and claw hammer to carry out the attack.

He confessed to the killing moments later when he was found covered in blood by two police officers.

Outside court Stefan's father, Patrick, said: "They were playing a game called Manhunt.

"The way Warren committed the murder is how the game is set out - killing people using weapons like hammers and knives.

"There is some connection between the game and what he has done."

Game ban

Echoing his former partner, the civil servant said: "I don't play these games but if they are influencing kids to go out and kill people then you don't want them on the shelves."

When police discovered Stefan, they found he had sustained horrific and fatal injuries.

Giselle Pakeerah
Giselle Pakeerah has called for a ban on violent video games

The boy had been hit so hard with the hammer he had suffered deep cuts to his head and neck. His head had been fractured in several places.

He had multiple stab wounds, with the knife being plunged so deep that it had caused serious injuries to his kidney and liver.

A spokesman for the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers' Association said: "We sympathise enormously with the family and parents of Stefan Pakeerah.

"However, we reject any suggestion or association between the tragic events and the sale of the video game Manhunt.

"The game in question is classified 18 by the British Board of Film Classification and therefore should not be in the possession of a juvenile.

"Simply being in someone's possession does not and should not lead to the conclusion that a game is responsible for these tragic events."

Judge Michael Stokes QC said Leblanc had carried out "a brutal, cold-blooded murder" and could expect a life sentence.

Sentencing was adjourned for reports.

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